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Confessions of an English Opium-eater (Penguin Popular Classics) Paperback – 26 Jun 1997


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Paperback, 26 Jun 1997
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (26 Jun. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140622578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140622577
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 1.8 x 18.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 577,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. P. G. Mccarthy on 24 Sept. 2008
Any version of this work is well worth reading; this later edition is my favourite as it contains important biographical material and an interesting attack on Coleridge, a fellow addict. Other reviewers found this book hard-going. There are reasons for this. The writer's classical education and philosophical bend are in evidence throughout; also his long digressions are not unusual for the period and have probably been in evidence since Tristram Shandy. I think that this is beautiful writing. Wordsworth himself took De Quincey to be the superior prose writer. His education is his real weapon. He doesn't hesitate to mention his victory over some other Greek scholar. This is fair enough; he was after all a very small and flawed man in many other respects.

Obviously, the most interesting parts are at the end; the pleasures and pains of opium. These are worth waiting for. It is hard not to be very struck by the power of the mind and pen of De Quincey describing these experiences. Dreams would resemble centuries, space appallingly vast, filled with all many of horrible creatures. Interestingly, the pains of opium were taken to be the reason for the book's success, and not the 'pleasures'. Some parts of the book seem to anticipate the Freudian 'unconscious' where ideas are hidden, like stars at noon.

I have read this book several times, usually on a train. Many times someone has commented to me how good this book is there and then. So I'm not alone...
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Alex Magpie on 15 Feb. 2003
De Quincey, in his confessions, tells us how he became addicted to opium after suffering stomach pains. He is both awed and jaded at the power opium has over him and writes as he is slowly trying to wean himself off the drug.
Unfortunately, De Quincey's style is such that it is difficult to become involved in his memoirs. His pompous sentence structure and frequent insertions in ancient Greek can make some parts of COEOE tiresome. Also, the narrative is frequently interrupted by De Quincey's authorial comments so this slim volume becomes even sparser on the topic of the actual effects of opium.
Nevertheless, COEOE does contain some interesting observances on both the personal effects of narcotic use and the social implications of the drug that was legal in De Quincey's time (early 19th century).
For those interested in the history of opium and its consequences on every day life will find COEOE a very insightful read but the author's complex style means I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who reads solely for pleasure.
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